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and Statistical Predestination
1) Statistical Spirituality
The sheer glory of having many souls saved, many churches formed and much ado, can become a tonic to the dispirited or a drug to the misled.
First, as is so wisely said so often of 'revivals', ARE the souls saved ? It appears that depending on the methods employed, crassly numerical approaches (MANY churches of vastly diverse approaches to anything like scripture, MANY advertisements and inducements and so on ...) can debilitate the church. It merely tends to promote confusion, superficiality and success stories of one chapter.
On the other hand, some revivals have had enormous effects, but in the last century much revivalism was merely a sordid ending story, leading to Romanism, from which Protestants had for centuries rejoiced to depart. Take the case of Scotland, in the days of martyrs like George Wishart and Patrick Hamilton, a whole bevy of Scottish grouse were shot at by the corrupt ecclesiastical cum political powers that then were, murdered for their holiness, for their godliness, for their gospel zeal and their love (called 'heresy', but such things do not belong in Romanism of the extirpation passion).
The people were moved from
such patent horror, self-indulgence, monastic vices, greed and lusts of the
carnal nature, endless abuse of the very name of 'church', by such intractable
love of blood, that when Knox made his leadership apparent, there was a vast
national sigh of relief.
Romanism (or if you will Roman Catholicism, though as George Borrow so rightly says, How can anything not universal be called 'catholic'!) has done far worse in Spain, and proved a veritable bonfire of loveliness in England, in some ways like World War I, in which perished much of the flower of English youth, many prepared by Baden Powell's scouting movement with high ideals, in mud and muck for 4 long years of trenches, with lowlights like Verdun, munching many thousands per night!
Now back there! Is that the path of progress ? The only point on which the current pope has relented is this, that people who were applying the truth had at times taken excessive measures. That in no way covers torture, theft and slaughter, the dispossession of the young of their parents' inheritance, by the slovenly and satanic use of the word 'heresy' as it often was. But the point is this, that Romanism with its triple idolatry (cf. SMR pp. 1032-100H with A Question of Gifts VI) - before which idolised beings, those marked to be slain were slaughtered, as with Moloch of old - is NOT at all truth, but wholly diverse from it. Its many correct tenets are twisted by the underlying principles of idolatry, grabbing the glory from God and so leaving the phrases too feeble to stand! God HATES this sort of synthesis (cf. Zephaniah 1:5), and is prepared to 'cut off' for it!
Hence we are left with the claims to power, to tyrannical authority so that God's 'father' figure, a 'pope', His alleged 'representative' on earth can over-ride and flatly contradict the Bible as attested freely in the SMR passages above. Father ? Is it not clear enough for a 10 year old: "CALL NO MAN ON EARTH FATHER, FOR ONE IS YOUR FATHER, who is in heaven" (Matthew 23:9). Is the pope then in heaven ? Is he not on this earth!
Back then to Romanism, to live in it or with it as one, went much of the so-called evangelism of the 20th century, one of the greatest delusions and misalliances of all time, exactly paralleling that of Jehoshaphat with Ahab, rebuked so heavily by the prophet Jehu (II Chronicles 19:2), leading to Ahab's death, and very nearly that of Jehoshaphat too (II Kings 22:30-35). This is the marvel of evangelism at its magnificent zenith in the twentieth century. This is where a very large amount of it has been delusively leading (cf. A Question of Gifts loc. cit. , Stepping out for Christ Ch. 1, Repent or Perish Ch. 5), while much more of churchcraft has been leading what is left as misleadable, into false alliances, ambitions and doctrines, applications and political séances, through the World Council of Churches, the aptly named 'Swing' Movement and many other instrumentalities (cf. News 87, the 10th Movement, News 121).
Some years ago, when the author was a Minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, in which one had hoped there would be a pure and biblical emphasis and fidelity, there was an opportunity, one was advised, for an entire Presbytery, a regional group of churches, of what was then the Southern Presbyterian Church (PC USA), to seek admittance to this denomination (then termed the RPCES). This entry was discouraged, again as found from information given, by one of the chief ecclesiastical executives. In time, the entire RPCES, a relatively much smaller denomination, though vigorous, was instead, itself swallowed up without remainder, into that Southern church.
This was done by a simple
absorption, so that this smaller church became part of the break-away group of
some 400 or so Southern churches, which became the Presbyterian Church in
This statistical triumph, this testimony to longevity (for now the smaller church could 'glory' in its historical 'past' derived from the one which consumed it), led to a loss of purity of doctrine so profound, and practices so unseparated (see News 97), so diverse from earlier zeal, that the author found it necessary to leave, after decades of unreformed disorders, talked about, but never rectified.
This general phenomenon of statistical spirituality is dangerously close to delusive. One remembers one of of the professors in the small RPCES wondering WHY there had to be this great push and thrust into the larger denomination. Why could not the smaller, separated denomination continue on its appointed path ? However, the talent for founding new churches, and size and so on, was evidently great enough to weigh against the much more significant dangers of a denomination the separation of which from false ways was at least dubious from the outset. The result was the demise of what held potential to be a vigorous, clear-cut and evangelical church to delight the heart.
Statistics ... and
statistical spirituality has its brazen terms Thus one Home Mission motto
reported once, was this: Two years, 200 or too bad! Meaning this was the
amount of time given to a home missionary to found such a church of 200
members. It is not suggested that this was ruthlessly applied, but it certainly
2) Psychic Subjectivity
To this statistical confusion (not in the least wrong to be big, provided the heart is bigger and the clothes of faith fit over the enlarged body, without bodices, ah! but then...), is added psychic subjectivity. This also like Summer locusts eats up goodness like a wolf on a carcass. If of course the animal had not been dead, they would have more trouble! This is often the failure story attending spurious 'success'.
One has met this psychic subjectivity syndrome, especially in predestination. The "mystery" doctrines of Calvin, so vastly overdone, are seized by some with relish. One said, Am I going to heaven ? I will be if I am elect! Such 'faith' may seem sublime to the hyper-orthodox, followers of man, of Calvin in his weakest point, but its very query is its knell.
Where then does such a thing stand ? It is of course a dodge from the doctrine of the Book. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you WILL be saved! ... is what is written (Acts ). A person who has so believed IS saved, is GUARANTEED of that. Thus in Ephesians 2:8, Paul indifferently addressing an entire Church of believers, tells them that they and he are having-been-saved people, and this by grace through faith. The same past tense appears (or rather a different one, but still past) in Titus 3:5-7 and Romans . WE HAVE BEEN SAVED.
But what then is salvation (cf. Luke 1:77, Titus 3:5) if it does not as Paul indicates, include the mercy of God and the washing of regeneration, together with the renewing of the Holy Spirit! We are SAVED, the apostle affirms, by these very things in the mercy of God. It is a past thing: we WERE saved by this. If then you are regenerated, there is no hope for hell (I John 3:9), since the SEED by which you are regenerated STAYS in you. Again, as in I John 5:12-13, John is writing expressly to assure believers that theirs is eternal life, which as Christ makes clear, involves being raised up in life on the last day (John 6:51-54).
Again, it is not possible to ENTER that DOOR (John 10:9) without being assured of SALVATION, and further, it is spelled out in particular, such that you never perish, and none (and that includes all, and hence yourself) can snatch you from the Father's hand.
Further, if washed and forgiven, then you are justified (cf. Isaiah 53:11, Romans 8:34, 10:9, 3:25-26); and again, testifying of the Lord with your mouth and believing in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, involves salvation. Such a person "will be saved". If justified, then, you are certain to have been foreknown, predestinated, called effectuallly so that you will be glorified (Romans , 29ff.).
There is no escape from the word of God. Now if you want psychic subjectivity, you can say in your heart: UNLESS He gives the following shopping list (to be visited on sundry churches which might be visited in search of it), I shall NOT BELIEVE (a sort of Thomas on the topic of assurance). Unless I see the following emotions/visions/events of the psyche, I SHALL NOT BELIEVE. At least, Thomas was objective about it, and was at once convinced by the evidence, as those who "believe" the Bible should be by the word of God! But in this case, it is sometimes not so. Like the woman who visited many physicians and was not healed, some like this can visit many churches, and always withhold faith. The case then of course, like any health resisted or dismissed, tends to grow worse.
Thus a romance, a virtual extravaganza can arise, in which doubt is treasured above the word of God, and it can even become a sort of point of honour NOT to receive from the indubitable teaching of the word of God, the Bible, what it categorically provides!
For this reason, like the woman bound for many years, the blood flow, the haemorrhage not stanched, in such cases, people can go about from church to church, from psychic state to psychic state, and still miss the bus, the bus for heaven, still so concerned about their requirements of God, that they have all but forgotten in this, God's requirement of them: BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus Christ and you WILL BE SAVED. What is not saved is lost, a flat contradiction. Often people get troubled by scriptures about churches 'falling away' which are wholly irrelevant to the issue. Their personnel can change, or their rules can be manipulated by ecclesiastical engineers. Nevertheless, the word of God does not change!
Statistical Spirituality, Psychic Subjectivity and Statistical Predestination alike lead to crises and calamities for many, and to each of these as to all, it is well to give a wide berth. None does the favour to the word of God of treating it with simple objectivity: what it says it means, what it declares is right and what is right is to be followed. In this there is great reward*1, whether for Christian Apologetics, or for the individual life.
Of the former two of these
errors, we have now taken some account.
3) Statistical Predestination!
It is however when we come to statistical predestination that we come to a downthrust on the crown of thorns; for it is here that the very nature and character of God can be wrongly presented, almost, as Spurgeon once said, to the point of a hideous caricature.
People sometimes act as if the fact that GOD RULES, and SELECTS whom He will, is the same as some MYSTERY in which you never know. The ball might not land, as it were, in your number, and so you do not win the prize. Bad luck! You're out.
Such a representation is by no means excessive of some of the things which one hears as people apparently wish to make GOD responsible for what, Biblically, is to the point of guilt, exclusively their own WILL and responsibility.
Often we have examined this topic (e.g. Predestination and Freewill (PF), The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, and the present volume Chs. 2 and 7, as well as in Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11). At present, our concern is not so directly with the love of God in its amplitude, to show it (as in Ch. 2) or the faith required to receive it (Ch. 7), but with a sort of depersonalised 'mystery' which seems to seduce some away from the simple realities of the faith, in this sphere.
There is a great mystery in godliness (I Timothy ), but it is NOT about the love of God, so that He SO loved that WHOLE world that WHOSOEVER (John , Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff., cf. SMR Appendix B) believes in Him should not perish. Yes, as Colossians and Timothy make pellucid, it is the WHOLE world, and indeed the spiritual beings elsewhere in high places as well. There is nothing else; there is no exemption, no exception, no lapse in the love of the God who is pleased to CALL Himself "love" (I John 4:7ff.).
It wonderful that He SHOULD BE like that, to be sure, and in a deep sense most mysterious that there should be such a latitude and wonder to His love. Again, the manner in which He chooses to exist, the very "form of God" (Philippians 2) is a great mystery. There is nothing in the slightest degree irrational about it (cf. SMR Ch. 7, pp. 532ff., 524ff.); but it is what it is, and it is something for a deep understanding of the whole glory of which, we await the time of heaven, when we shall see Him face to face, and know Him as we are known (I Corinthians 13:11-12, Revelation 22:3-4).
It is just that the extent of His love is NOT a mystery because He has STATED numerous times, and exhibited and exemplified numerous times, what that is.
· It is all a matter of a profound confusion that people like Calvin
· (whose 5 points, when read in a Biblical context, and not in the midst of his error about the amplitude of God's love to the lost, are quite valid and very valuable indeed! cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, end-note 1, PF Ch. 2 - on Calvin)
· extend the mystery to contradict what is quite categorically written!
Confusion can come from simple mixture of sovereignty, as if it meant arbitrariness, or the wholly unknown. What is WHOLLY KNOWN as in the above references, is this, that HOWEVER God predestines (in the form of God, and it is in His own sublime infinitude of wisdom and knowledge), it is done in the MIDST of a SOVEREIGN desire that all might come to a knowledge of the truth, together with a sovereign determination not to VIOLATE that will of man: it is this will, that of man, which He so often cites, in the midst of His insistences on His love, as the ground of exclusion. Thus in Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., we are without any vagarious hope of dismissing (as does Calvin with an appalling misuse of Christology cf. PF loc. cit.) the love of Christ in some diversification from that of His Father, or in any other odd way (as exposed in SMR Appendix B). To dismiss His clear attestations in the end, is to deform.
You need virtually a new christ for that, one who made no such claims that he who has seen Me has seen the Father, and if you had known the Father, you would have known Me also! ( as He does in John 14). These things are there, stated and contrasted with the work of man in diverting himself FROM IT.
It is just the same in
Ezekiel 33:11. There is no point in saying of this magnificent depiction of the
breadth of the love of God for the wicked, Ah, but this is for the
covenanted people, it is to THEM that God is so speaking! This is wholly
beside the point. The tension between God and man at that stage, between God
indeed and ISRAEL, as expressed in the prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and
others, is as profound as it well might be. Already in Amos we are seeing
(quite some time before the tide of
There is in fact no
limitation or qualification in the Ezekiel 33 statement, and the whole book of
Jonah shows that the mercy of God is not limited, that His erring prophet is
without understanding of the breadth of God's mercy to PEOPLE AS PEOPLE! Did it
matter that it was
It seems that lesson still for many, has to be relearned theologically!
Very well, let us look at Ezekiel 33:10-11:
“Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of
: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?' Israel
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of
?’ " Israel
AS I LIVE, asseveration, strong and most vigorous annunciation, as John Murray expounded it (and the rest of this paragraph is in line with his exposition). I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ... Negation. But that the wicked should turn (affirmation) - this being the contrary expression to the former one. He should turn from way and live. Turn, turn - exhortation. For why should you die, O house of
AS GOD LIVES, it is so - this we read.
No more profound wish or determination, resolution of desire or declaration of intent is conceivable. Unlike any passing thought that mere men might have, this is to the depths of the divine being! It is NOT His wish to afflict the children of men (Lamentations ), and any such thought is abomination, irreconcilably contrary and con-trary in terms of God's word.
It IS His wish that they turn from their evil way, for HE SAYS SO, as in Colossians 1. Reconciliation through Christ is the offer there displayed to all worlds, spiritual or physical, and to this one to the uttermost, as in John 3:16 with Colossians; and precisely accordingly, knowledge of the truth is the direction of His desire as in I Timothy 2. For all men.
To be sure, Arminianism has thrown away the sovereignty in order in some things, to avoid the false point of Calvin, that the Father was diverse in His love from that of Christ, more restricted or restrictive or both. This is of course involves a total exposure of the depth of Calvin's error. Yet it makes error of its own in the process, being too exuberant in its negation, to allow for the rest of Scripture.
Incidentally, one does not regard Calvin's teaching as heretical, since the subject is deep, but certainly ON THIS POINT it is unscriptural and erroneous. To say less would be to fail in fidelity. At this point, Calvinism contradicts what is written, over and over, and this as further exemplified in multiple cases, expressed in multiple forms and language.
This however is no reason to follow either it or Calvin in his own error. Some, however, understandably most impressed with the latitude and scope of Calvin's understanding, seem determined to follow him when he falls, as if the breach with scripture is not there explicit.
What then must be said of this ? Perhaps, as one has noted, even profound and brilliant theologians err in some thing in order that people should fail to (virtually) idolise them, by FOLLOWING THEM, as some do, as when they call themselves Calvinists, for example, and this is not the ONLY NAME so misused. It is forbidden quite expressly, and whether or not the result is EFFECTUAL IDOLATRY (putting this person, as RC's tend to do with the pope, where the WORD OF GOD should be put), it is still wrong (cf. I Corinthians 3:1-6). It is CARNAL, as well as CONDEMNED and CONTRARY, to use Paul's language. It results in hideous errors, almost as if pollution, and not purity, were the objective.
The worst features of someone's theology, presented for the great gain of the church, can thus become chains and tend to defile the good points!
Seeing, then, that it is not statistical predestination, as if some mystery did some choice and some numbers came up, as with the sadly unfortunate person mentioned above, the Christian can rejoice. It is not mystery but mastery which predestinates, and the Master is Christ who in all things co-operates with the most intense intimacy with His Father (John -23), sharing one throne and glory (Revelation 5:9-13, 22:3 "the throne of God and of the Lamb"). No, it is not this, but SPIRITUAL PREDESTINATION in which YOU ONLY can be blamed for NOT being a Christian, when confronted with the Gospel.
That is why it is expressly stated that "THIS is the condemnation," NOT that you sinned, no, that is not what does it IN THE END, but that "light has come into the world and men have loved darkness rather than light" - John . This is a categorical statement in the context of the vast love of God to the world, and the ground of condemnation in view of that. Thus in John 15: 21-23, we hear that IF HE, CHRIST JESUS had not come, then THEY would not have "sinned" - that is, have been in that sin which being relevant to the topic, results in hell: permanent, effectual exclusion from the divine presence. It is a matter of LIGHT COMING, LIGHT COMING TO ALL, LIGHT BEING REJECTED BY SOME, CONDEMNATION so accruing to those. It is despite the light, despite the love, and occasions lament on the part of Christ as in Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah being in strict and abundant parallel.
HOW can God have such an inveterate, classical, uncontained love and yet hate Esau ? (Romans 9). That is predestination. Before that, however, in logical sequence as in Romans 8, is foreknowing*2 His people. Because of predestination everything is fixed; but it is because of foreknowledge that it IS SO fixed. IN this foreknowledge, God has TOLD us the scope of His love multiple times. It is the same as Christ showed Himself personally, and in His lament for those concertedly, perversely and finally lost.
Christ ? HE WHO HAS SEEN ME has seen the Father (John 14). Thus GOD IS LIKE THAT. What a horrendous distortion to pretend that sovereignty in THIS respect is a mystery, concerning the lost! It is one of the least mysterious things ever known. The condemnation is in the very face of the declared love, and it is only in the face of HIS BEING THERE and rejected that condemnation occurs, and indeed, this IS the condemnation, that He so loved, so came and so was the light, and men preferred darkness.
WHY then would God allow
this to happen. Could He not construct puppets and MAKE them love
Him ? That is simply a contradiction in terms, like saying, Can't zero really be the same as one!
Puppets are by nature without personality and cannot love.
God has elected to love, and love is not the thing which forces its object, since it is not possessive ("seeks not its own" - I Cor. 13): that is the way it is, its very nature. Friends are not make at the point of a gun, nor healthy marriages either. Love has RESTRAINT, and it loves to be so. Nothing is frustrated, therefore, though lament indicates the reality of the self-restraining magnificence of this glorious love of God. The exuberance of divine love does not distort its purity, nor does His word lie when it asserts its total scope. It is moreover ONLY when such love as God repeatedly, categorically and in many applications attests, actually is there, that freedom has any meaning. It is only then that without manipulation, in purity, a Higher Person taking the lower, the Creator taking the creature, real liberty exists: for then the option to be quit of God is real, liberty and hence responsibility is operative, yet this is done not in the carnal sinfulness which so blinds that is not liberty but sin which controls! but in a love which is true, profound and effectual.
Neither tyrannical, nor inept, this love knows all, does all, implements all, and never varies from the truth. In this love, man basks as at the Gold Coast, without cancer; in this God, man may glory with utter unreserve, for HE, He is good! and it is from Him that such a life as ours can be good, and being good, bring glory to His name.
For more on the love of God: see Spiritual Refreshings Chs. 9-12.
"The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
"More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
"Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
"Who can understand His errors! Cleanse thou ME from secret faults."
(capitalisation and emphasis added to assist perception).
Not only is there great reward in following HIS judgments, but there is no fault to be found in Him (Deuteronomy 32:4), rather is there fault in oneself, who must thus be clean, cleansed, keen and rightly directed, construing not what appears desirable, but what is found written, as it comes, and this with great profit.
Romans 9 makes it crystal clear that divine foreknowledge has NOTHING to do with a man's future works, merits or attainments. There is NOTHING of merit in it. Alas, Calvinism can readily (and entirely unintentionally) come so close to ascribing merit, that it is sad. Thus WHY should someone be chosen by God ? because of NO differentiation ? That is caprice, not wisdom, which God personifies and essentialises, being its true and only ultimate source. Christ is made to us wisdom, and this is because as in Proverbs 8 (Barbs, Arrows and Balms 27), this is Himself.
Again, IF there is differentiation, is it because of something nearer, dearer or clearer at least to godliness, or not ? If not, then is it perverse ? Of course not. What then is the basis ? ungodliness ? Biblically it is love, unrestricted in outreach, glorious in power, grand in kindness. It is in nothing divorced in its ample procedures, from itself, by the God who IS love.
However, it is precisely this wholly unscriptural divorce from the citation of the will of man as relevant which leads to such fuzzy things.
In fact, it is the WILL of man which is cited. Now at once, it is to be noted that sin has made it operationally defunct (that is one of the best of all the features of Calvinism, to make this so very clear, as in I Cor. 2:14, Ephesians 4:17ff.). Indeed, the insistence on the 'choice' of man in his own unsaved state, is one of the glaring foci of Arminianism which makes the corresponding error of Calvinism, itself vastly nearer to Scripture as a system, the more readily understandable. They often fight it out, quite foolishly, in this, where both are wrong.
Operationally defunct, however, though it be, it is as we have seen, directly and repetitively cited by God in terms of the non-salvation of the loved sinner. It is therefore in principle perfectly certain that in SOME way, God does not proceed because of the will of man, in HIS OWN knowledge, which OMITS any thought of future attainments or performance (Romans 9). In principle, this is very easy to understand, though in the form of God, He may of course implement this revealed principle in any way, except in this, a feckless or dysfunctional way, for it is sure to be successfully wrought by Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). With God, the knowledge will be knowledge indeed, be it foreknowledge or any other kind; for in Christ is all the fulness of the Godhead, and in God are all the riches of knowledge and wisdom (Colossians 2:3, Ephesians 3:8, Colossians 2:8-9).
In PF, as in SMR Ch. 8, one has shown how it MIGHT have been wrought. It is necessary to do this in that context in order to DEMONSTRATE the coherence and competence of the Biblical picture of these things, in contrast to the necessary and intrinsic failure of all else to cover all the components, guilt, liberty, deterministic elements, sovereignty and the like. That this is so has been shown in some detail in Sparkling Life ... Ch. 7.
However, there is no necessity, of course, since the form of God is an infinite reality, that it be done in that way; nor is it the intention, nor has it ever been in these writings, to suggest any such thing. What is in fact necessary, in view of His REVELATION, is that there be
- His love to the depths of His Being for the lost.
- His provision for that love.
- His foreknowledge in such a way that this love for them is to His entire satisfaction implemented.
- His knowledge of the relevant feature of the human will, itself inoperative AT THIS LEVEL as shown, on this earth, which concerns Him, to ensure the integrity of His love is met, and its virtue.
Will is not merit. God's knowledge of it, is not a knowledge of merit. It is a knowledge of need. As to the will of man, it is only when it is corrupted that its exercise would involve a RELATIVE merit. In its uncorrupted state, it is merely proceeding without loss, to follow the way it is. In wickedness, it would enter into comparabilities, one will with the other; in the goodness of an unspotted creation, however, it is merely what it ought to be, no better than made, a blessed function not misaligned.
Moreover, if Adam had chosen otherwise, when sinless, that would be no merit in the slightest degree. This is manifest. What would then have been the case ? This: He had the need, he stayed with it, and went as one would hope he would do. One formulation, then would be this: that God knows what man, each man, would have willed, had be been free to will, and not polluted by the confusions and blindnesses of sin. As to God, He does not need time to know this, nor does He need to refer to it, and He in His divine majesty is in no respect limited.
Whether God proceeds in this way, in some such METHODOLOGY as this, it is not now for us to know; that He MIGHT do something of this kind is the point. In principle, there is no problem. It meets moreover all the scriptures. What is sure is that He is not oblivious of man as a willing being, in making His choice, nor is He in the slightest degree directed by man (to become, to the point, incompetent). It is a wise sovereignty, lovingly selecting, without abuse of the nature of what He has made. Man is citable and cited for any loss, and THIS IS the condemnation, that in the presence of HIS light, this divine outreach without limit, man has preferred darkness, in HIS own very presence, man has not received Him.
This is certainly what the scripture teaches, and Wesley's unlovely Arminianism with which he appears to have tried to protect it, and Calvin's unlovely mysterious predestination (in the sense, relating to the selection and love) with which he appears at such loss to scriptural fidelity to try to protect the sovereignty: these are two of the byways of the church. The men are not. They erred, each, and Wesley, it would seem, quite as grievously in his inadequate system as Calvin in his restrictive intrusions into what is written (cf. PF). Thus, in this precise point of the love of God, Wesley was right and Calvin wrong. In the theology of the whole matter, Calvin has magnificent points to make, and Wesley fails.
It is time to get away from these forbidden things, I of Calvin, I of Wesley (and for that matter, I of Luther) and to be thankful for what each of them contributes, for each has a wonderful provision to make, in this area or that, and none is perfect. The TEST is the scripture, and as in any provision, when it is made, one can see the error and delight in the true tones where they are. Greatness is no excuse for violating the scripture on this point; and as to that, it speaks and has spoken for itself. The ONLY wisdom is to follow it, in all doctrine.
The great delight is this, that God IS love, is not the author of sin, but of liberty, and even when liberty is de-licensed through the breaches of sin, making man defunct in adequate spiritual knowledge, distorted and distorting in his comprehension, God is ABLE to find the lost, and is on record in this, that it PLEASED HIM, having placed all fulness in Christ as man, the Messiah incarnate God, to RECONCILE ALL THINGS to Himself. If it pleases man to demean this scope with his inept and inadequate philosophies, whether miscalled theology or not, this does nothing to diminish the glory of God, but by contrast to highlight it. Blessed be God.